Tampa Bay Lightning at Los Angeles Kings Preview: Up against the monarch
This six-game road trip could be the springboard to winning.
Tampa Bay Lightning (20-20-4) at Los Angeles Kings (22-17-4) GAME 45
Time: 4:00pm EST
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Broadcast/Streaming: SN, FS-W, SUN
Opponent SB Nation Site: Jewels From the Crown
Previous Game Musings
Frustrating. Simple as that. The Lightning played what was probably their best first period of the season and had a lead after outskating and outworking the Columbus Blue Jackets. It looked as if Martin St. Louis’ retirement ceremony had lit a spark into the Bolts that hadn’t been there the last few weeks.
During the first intermission, there was optimism at Amalie arena, something that had been largely absent, until the second period came around. The Blue Jackets came out with a fire in their eyes and pushed the Lightning around for the entirety of the second frame.
The Lightning, however, had largely done a solid job at keeping Columbus’ shots to the outside and allowing Vasilevskiy to make routine saves. As the period wore on, though, Vasy had to make some impressive saves to keep the lead, until one heck of a flukey bounce found Josh Anderson’s stick and suddenly it was tied.
The Bolts looked as if that tying goal drained all of their momentum. They had small spurts in the third and even had a powerplay with less than three minutes left, but nothing came of it. This team just doesn’t seem to have the same mental stability they’ve had the past two seasons. Beyond frustrating. Moving on, though...
The start of a six-game road trip has the Lightning traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Kings. The Kings currently hold down the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, but don’t have much room for error. They only have a one point lead over Nashville, and a two-point lead over Vancouver. Things aren’t super bright for the Kings right now. Obviously, the loss of Jonathan Quick has hurt the Kings, but their offense hasn’t exactly been regal.
Over their last ten games, the Kings have gone 5-4-1 while scoring 25 goals and allowing 27. They’ve managed to score 110 goals (21st) and have allowed 108 (6th) so far. That isn’t great when you compare them to every other playoff team in the league. Still, this Kings team is a possession monster.
They have the second highest Corsi For % in the league at 54.29% and are the best team in the league at suppressing shots. They’ve just been victims of poor goaltending and poor shooting percentages. Do not take their record as an indication that this team is not good, they are similar to Nashville in that regard.
On special teams, the Kings power play is rather mediocre at 17.3% (18th), but they boast a top ten penalty kill at 83% (T-10th). The Kings are also a top ten team in generating shots while also allowing the least amount of shots per game in the entire league. This team suffocates their opponents and doesn’t allow them to leave their DZ. This should be very worrisome for the Lightning, since exiting the DZ has been the team’s biggest weakness all season.
As for the Lightning, their last ten games have not gone well. They sport a 3-6-1 record while being outscored 38 to 23. This season the Lightning have scored 123 goals (T-13th) and have allowed 132 (25th). The defensive problems that were being masked by the offense’s production earlier in the season have slowly pulled the team down to a place no one could’ve expected.
The Bolts have just been too inconsistent this season. There are times (1st period against Columbus) where they look like the team that was two games away from a Stanley Cup, and there are times when they look like a discombobulated mess. If the Lightning want to have any form of a chance to make the playoffs then this six-game road trip has to be the springboard. We can’t hope we suddenly become the 2014-2015 Ottawa Senators and go on a historic streak.
This team has the talent to make a run, but the coaching staff needs to get a full 60-minute game out of them. Time is running out and I wouldn’t be surprised if roster changes were made with the trade deadline looming. Who knows, maybe trading someone will wake the team up and get them all on the same page. At this point, anything that works would be welcomed.